OCZ displays new SSDs, PSUs at CES

Solid-state drives have been big business for OCZ, so it was no surprise to see a number of them on display at the company's suite during CES last week. The most interesting drives for enthusiasts were a selection of Vertex 2 SSDs based on controllers from newcomer SandForce.

SandForce has two controllers: the SF-1200 for client SSDs and the SF-1500 for enterprise. OCZ is putting the former in an MLC-based Vertex 2 model that will be available in 50, 100, 200, and 400GB capacities. The Vertex 2 is expected to hit read and write speeds of 270 and 260MB/s, respectively, and 9,500 4KB random-write IOPS.

Carrying on the enthusiast tradition of using enterprise-class hardware in desktops, OCZ will also have a Vertex 2 Pro that pairs the SF-1500 with MLC memory. This drive's preliminary specs suggest it will hit 280MB/s with reads and 270MB/s with writes. OCZ says the Pro will nearly double the standard model's 4KB random-write IOPS rating, too.

Of course, there will also be an SLC-based Vertex that uses the SF-1500. The Vertex 2 Pro EX boasts the same preliminary read and write speed ratings as its MLC-based counterpart, but it should perform better with random writes. According to early specs, the Vertex 2 Pro can crank out 19,000 IOPS with 4KB random writes, while the EX can handle 25,000. The Pro and EX will be available in the same capacities as the standard Vertex 2, although the EX will lack a 400GB model.

Final pricing hasn't been set for the Vertex 2s, but OCZ says they'll be a little more expensive than existing Indilinx-based drives due to higher controller costs. The SandForce-based drives will be sold alongside existing first-generation Vertex models rather than replacing them. Expect the Vertex redux to arrive in March.

Interestingly, OCZ has dropped Samsung-based drives from its SSD lineup. Samsung's reluctance to allow users to perform firmware updates didn't help the relationship, nor did the memory giant's refusal to allow OCZ access to its firmware source code. SandForce has apparently been more cooperative, allowing OCZ to have input on firmware. OCZ says the Vertex 2s are built entirely from scratch in-house, as well.

On a more extreme note, OCZ was also showing off its latest Z-Drive PCIe SSD. Dubbed the e88, this fourth-generation product uses an x8 interface and is entirely powered by the PCI Express slot. Up to eight Indilinx SSD controllers reside on a single card behind an LSI RAID chip that runs in RAID 0 by default, but supports other array levels. The card is bootable, and OCZ developed proprietary drivers and firmware that allow TRIM commands to pass through the RAID controller. The rest of the card is an in-house OCZ design, right down to the SO-DIMM-style NAND slots that let users easily replace spent NAND daughter cards.

OCZ says the e88 can hit read and write speeds of 1400 and 1500MB/s, respectively. The drive can apparently manage 20,000 4KB random-write IOPS, too. Expect to see the e88 in 512GB and 1TB capacities. No official word on pricing yet, but if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it.

In addition to SATA and PCIe solid-state drives, OCZ was also showing a prototype external SSD with SuperSpeed USB 3.0 connectivity. This drive uses an Indilinx controller and will be available in 64, 128, and 256GB capacities. Final pricing hasn't been set, but OCZ says the drive should only cost $25-30 more than equivalent SATA models. OCZ isn't talking performance just yet; however, it did reveal that the drive uses a Symwave USB chip. The drive measures just 56 x 120 x 10 mm and uses a slim "Micro B" USB 3.0 connector.

Although DRAM was conspicuously absent from OCZ's suite, the company did have a couple of new PSUs on display, including a Fatal1ty-branded 750W unit. More interesting was an all-new Silencer Mk II 950W—the first fresh PC Power & Cooling model in quite a while. This Silencer successor retains the original's single 12V rail and disdain for modular cables. However, the Mk II is quite a bit smaller, despite the fact that it uses a much larger 135-mm cooling fan. The fan upgrade apparently makes this latest revision even quieter than the first Silencer, which was long one of our favorites for its low noise levels under load.

Expect to see the Mk II arrive in about a month and a half starting with a 950W model. 750, 650, and 500W flavors are also planned, with the latter two carrying 80 Plus Bronze ratings. The 750 and 950W models have 80 Plus Silver certification.

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